There is a very punctual and dependable bus system that runs a tour-style bus through every major city in Benin every day, as well as certain international services in and out of Benin. There are many main routes with buses of varying quality. Confort Lines and Benin-Routes are the two major systems. Confort Lines seems to provide a wider range of routes, and you even receive some water and a little lunch for longer journeys. Confort Lines reservations for XOF500 may be made in advance at any regional office or by phoning +229 21-325815. Bus routes connect Porto-Novo, Cotonou, Calavey, Bohicon, Dassau, Parakou, Djougou, Natitingou, Tanguieta, Kandi, and even Malanville.
Buses operate on the two main paved highways that go north and south, and you may have the bus stop at any location you choose, at varying prices. Because the bus operates on set rates, there is no need for a price negotiation. To give you a sense of the cost, buses from Cotonou to Natitingou (or vice versa) cost XOF7,500 one way, and XOF5,500 from Cotonou to Parakou (or vice versa). These are only a few instances; there are buses that travel as far as Tanguieta and Malanville.
By bush taxi
Bush Taxi service is available between most cities, every day in larger cities and on a regular basis in the most distant ones. The overall cost for long-distance travel will be somewhat more than by bus, but comfort and security will be considerably lower. Drivers often attempt to increase the number of passengers in the vehicle so that passengers may have an intimate encounter with the local community. Bush cabs, on the other hand, provide flexibility that bus systems do not; you can always get a taxi pretty fast (at the autogarres). A bush taxi may be a more flexible and affordable alternative for journeys of 3 hours (about 150km) or less. However, unlike buses, costs must be negotiated in advance. The cost is determined on the destination and the price of petrol. Inquire what other passengers are paying and always attempt to pay upon arrival, but this is not always feasible. A good alternative for non-budget visitors is to purchase all of the seats in a bush taxi, or at least all of the seats in one row. It not only saves time waiting for the taxi driver to fill up every seat, but it’s also far more pleasant than being packed in with a bunch of sweaty individuals! If you do this, you’ll usually need to pay the driver up advance so he can purchase gas along the route.
Hired drivers are more expensive, but they are the most common mode of transportation for foreigners. The price is determined by the driver, and it is best to have a local (Beninois) assist you in negotiating. A three-hour vehicle trip from the south central area :::to?::: via the major route, for example, costs approximately 30,000 – 40,000 FCFA if rented, while a bush taxi costs about 5000 – 10,000 FCFA.
The traffic is a mess, and the laws of the road are seldom followed. An International Driver’s License is needed if you want to drive yourself in Benin. As in the United States and Canada, traffic travels on the right side of the road.
It is advised that you hire a local guide.
Authorities roadblocks occur often at night, and going alone with a driver (particularly if you are a woman) may place the driver in an uncomfortable situation of explaining and/or paying the police.
Traveling by vehicle is only advised between large cities. To go from Cotonou to Porto Novo, for example, or from Cotonou to Abomey, etc. Most of the time, you will be forced to share the vehicle with a large number of other passengers who are traveling in the same direction as you. Expect to feel cramped and hot since most bush cabs are in poor condition and drivers attempt to pack as many passengers as possible into the vehicle to make the journey as profitable as possible. However, if you have the additional cash, you may rent a vehicle to drive you anywhere you want to go with no pauses. The price would be determined by the driver, and you would certainly need the assistance of a local (Beninois) to negotiate the price, otherwise you would be taken advantage of. A three-hour vehicle trip from the South Central area along the major highway, for example, would cost about 30,000 – 40,000 CFA if only two passengers were present, but if you shared the ride and picked up others along the way, you would only spend approximately 5000 – 10,000 CFA. This, of course, is dependent on whether or not you have a local present. Traveling in this way without the presence of a native is not advised. The risk is low, but the financial cost would be high. In addition, random police roadblocks at night occur on a regular basis as a means of policing the roads, and if you were driving alone with a driver (particularly if you are a woman), it may place him in an uncomfortable situation explaining to the police, and it may cost you extra money. Traveling by vehicle inside the city is not advised since it is both needless and inefficient. Motorcycle taxis are the greatest method to go about any city or hamlet. They are extremely inexpensive, and the drivers are well-versed in the area. In most cities, you may identify them by their yellow jerseys. Choose your driver cautiously, since drinking and driving is extremely prevalent in Benin. If you need to go someplace and enter a building, for example, they will wait outside for as long as you like for a little fee; just make sure you don’t pay them beforehand! For example, you can go almost everywhere in Cotonou by zem (zémidjan = bike taxi) for as low as 500-1,000 CFA if you bargain with a local. It is advised to travel as much as possible with a native, mostly for economical reasons. It is also not a good idea to drive oneself about in a vehicle. The roads are mainly hard packed sand, with a few paved main roads in towns and on motorways connecting larger cities. There are no regulations of the road, and traffic is chaotic. An International Driver’s License is needed if you want to drive in Benin. Traffic travels on the same side of the road as in the United States and Canada.
Motorcycle taxis are the cheapest method to travel inside a city or hamlet (moto, zemidjan or zem). They are inexpensive, and the drivers are generally well-versed in the area. A typical trip costs between 100f and 300f CFA, and they are readily identified by their matching colored shirts with their ID numbers on them. Prices must be agreed upon in advance, and payment is due upon arrival. Remember the driver’s ID number, much as you would a taxi driver’s ID in New York City. Choose your driver with caution; drinking and driving is extremely prevalent in Benin, and moto drivers are occasionally engaged in crime rings in big towns.
Motos come in a variety of colors, each representing a particular city (for example): Yellow is the color of Cotonou. Natitingou: light blue with yellow shoulders or green with yellow shoulders Kandi is a light blue dress with golden shoulders. Yellow with green shoulders, this is a parakou. Kérou’s color is green with yellow shoulders.
Many pirogues (kayak/canoes) are utilized in the fishing business. Normally, a pirogue may be used to visit the lake settlements.
L’Organisation Commune Benin-Niger des Chemins de Fer et Transports operates a railway line that runs halfway across the nation, from Cotonou to Parakou (2132 2206). While the train takes longer than a bush taxi, it is a much more pleasant mode of transportation. First-class tickets are just slightly more costly than second-class tickets, and they are well worth the additional cost. The train departs Cotonou three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) at 8 a.m., arriving in Parakou around 6:30 p.m., and returns the following day at 8 a.m. from the Parakou railway station, arriving in Cotonou around 6:30 p.m. The first class ticket costs CFA 5600, while the second class ticket costs CFA 4000.
These trains will typically stop in Bohicon, which is 4 hours from Cotonou. The first-class ticket is CFA 1400, while the second-class rate is CFA 1100.
A tour business also rents out colonial-era trains for multi-day tours at exorbitant but good-value rates (CFA 50,000+).